Joyce Remarks at FY24 Budget Hearing for the Department of Homeland Security (As Prepared)

Mar 29, 2023

The Subcommittee on Homeland Security will come to order.

Welcome Secretary Mayorkas. I sincerely thank you for joining us today as we discuss the Department’s Fiscal Year 2024 budget submission.

First, I want to recognize DHS’s 20-year anniversary. The Department was forged in the wake of the horrific attacks on September 11th , 2001, and tasked with the critical mission of protecting our Nation against those who would do us harm.

On behalf of the Committee, I would like to convey my sincere appreciation for the tireless, and often thankless, work done by the men and women of DHS on a day-to-day basis.

Turning our attention to the Fiscal Year 2024 budget request, this proposal is unfortunately more disappointing than it is promising.

This budget is full of gimmicks that mask the true cost of protecting the Homeland and make our job as appropriators even more difficult. The Administration’s Fiscal Year 2024 budget request for the Department is $60.3 billion dollars—which is nearly equal to the current fiscal year.

However, after accounting for the $1.6 billion in unauthorized TSA fees and the $4.7 billion in emergency funds for border management activities, the real request is nearly $6 billion above Fiscal Year 2023.

Now is not the time for budget gimmicks.

For over two years we have seen skyrocketing illegal migration at the border.

This policy-driven crisis continues for one reason, and one reason alone – this Administration is unwilling to publicly dissuade migrants from coming to the border, and to back that up with action under the authority it already has on the books.

Bad policy drives bad outcomes, and the Biden Administration’s policies are undoubtedly driving our border security crisis.

It is our job as appropriators to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars and ensure we are not wasting money by supporting bad policies that don’t result in the desired outcomes.

Despite your public statements to the contrary, the border is not secure.

If it was, we wouldn’t have had 2.7 million encounters—a record level—last fiscal year. We wouldn’t have an estimated 600,000 illegal migrants who got away from our agents and made it into our country.

And we wouldn’t have our law enforcement professionals stuck administratively processing migrants – when they should be patrolling the border.

On top of all of this, the Title 42 public health authority the Department has relied on to turn back migrants at the border will likely expire on May 11th.

When that tool goes away, border security operations will be profoundly impacted.

As we consider resource needs, it seems clear that the combination of losing Title 42 could easily cause a surge that overwhelm our dedicated officers and agents on the border.

The Biden Administration has responded to this situation with a new proposed rule entitled the “Circumvention of Lawful Pathways,” which is being touted as an effective border security measure.

However, this does not solve the problem at hand and instead it abuses the parole system by allowing tens of thousands of migrants with no permanent, lawful path to citizenship, into the country.

The Administration’s response also includes taking crucial funding for addressing the border crisis out of its own base and instead funneling it into a slush fund that will have little impact on mitigating the border chaos.

The proposed emergency $4.7-billion-dollar Southwest Border Contingency Fund will only ensure that we spend more hard-earned tax dollars to achieve the same results and with less oversight from Congress.

Conditioning additional funds to worsening conditions incentivizes the Administration to not solve problems and do their job in the first place.

Building more soft-sided facilities for processing and then releasing migrants into the interior hasn’t worked. Decreasing detention capacity hasn’t worked.

Border security operators have been clear – without consequences, the illegal flow will continue unabated.

We cannot manage our way out of this crisis with a blank check for processing capacity and non-governmental organizations.

Those actions only facilitate lawlessness and encourage more migrants to make the dangerous journey north.

The lack of transparency in this budget proposal is frustrating.

Today, I would like to get more specific on funding and outcomes – what has worked, what hasn’t, and how we can sufficiently resource the Department to carry out its many important missions. I look forward to working with you and the Department to seek solutions to address the border security crisis at hand, and to combat the many threats facing the homeland.

I’ll now turn to my colleague, Mr. Cuellar, for his opening remarks.